Jeremy Pope
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These Caribbean Countries Still Ban Gay Sex

Saint Lucia & Saint Kitts and Nevis Called Out For Ban on Gay Sex

A universal periodic review by the United Nations Human Rights Council found the Caribbean islands of Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis (the latter are two islands but one country) have yet to legalize same-sex sexual relations. Instead, both countries still have laws on the books which ban and punish such relations between consenting adults. While the laws, which can carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, are rarely enforced, some members of the council said the colonial era bans needed to be removed from their criminal codes.

The U.N. Human Rights Council noted in a statement that “Saint Lucia’s archaic laws on ‘buggery and gross indecency’ had a pernicious effect on society, and urged the country to decriminalize consensual same-sex conduct,” and urged both countries to immediately remove the discriminatory and outdated laws.

“While colonial-era buggery and gross indecency laws in Saint Lucia and in Saint Kitts and Nevis are seldom enforced against consenting people, their impact is pernicious,” Cristian González Cabrera, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said earlier this year in a statement regarding the two nations’ anti-LGBTQ+ laws. “Laws criminalizing same-sex conduct reinforce prejudices and provide social and legal sanction for discrimination, violence, and prejudice against LGBT people.”

“You are not safe,” a 20-year-old man from Saint Kitts and Nevis identified only as Nicolas told Human Rights Watch. “You have to hide who you are” or otherwise folks will “get physical.”

Toby, 38, a gay man from Saint Lucia, said he was ostracized by his family because he was gay. He also described an attack on him and his partner in 2016.

“[I knew] it was motivated by us being gay because the term ‘buller’ was used,” Toby recalled. “As we were entering the house, a car pulled out, two persons jumped out … a gun was raised and they tried to pull the trigger, but the trigger did not work. I told my boyfriend to run. They stabbed me, several times, the deepest one was below the navel. My boyfriend was also attacked with stones.”

González Cabrera urged that “Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts and Nevis should heed the recommendations of UN member states and provide their residents protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT people are part of the social fabric of the island nations and deserve the same respect and rights as everyone else.”

Exactly how the outdated laws could or should impact LGBTQ+ tourism would be another arena for politicians to consider as well.

Tags: News, Caribbean

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